Intelligence researcher Alfred / THU 5-1-14 / Polynesian term for island hopper / Tolkien's Prancing Pony / Chemical restricted by Stockholm Convention / Goods stolen by Knave of Hearts / Integral can compute it

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Constructor: Brandon Hensley

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: ALIEN / ABDUCTION (1A: With 6-Across, subject of an eerie rural legend … illustrated by connecting nine identically filled squares in this puzzles with a closed line) — rebus puzzle where "ET" squares, when connected, for the outline of a flying saucer, which hovers above the lone COW square. Apparently this is a legend. I had no idea.

Word of the Day: NAIL SET (5D: Tool used with a hammer) —
A tool used for driving a nail so that its head is below or flush with a surface. Also called nail punch.

Read more:
• • •

The ALIEN ABDUCTION "legends" I know about do not involve cows. At all. They involve probes. And humans. Rural humans. And orifices. Rural human orifices. Cows?—news to me. But I'm not rural, so that may explain my ignorance, at least partially. I like this puzzle's playfulness. I didn't love solving it that much—the fill is just OK—and 44 black squares is just insane (-ly high), but it's pretty original, and has several thematic layers, so even if I didn't have a rip-roaring time solving it, I do appreciate the artistry and effort. Probably would've made more sense to have the cow on the ground, but maybe the point is that the COW is being tractor-beamed up … yes, that must be it. It's weird, though, because COW's placement doesn't really give you a distinct sense of elevation. But then you'd probably need a FIELD square on the bottom, and that could be difficult to pull off.

GENII is a very rough plural that no one would ever use ever (17A: Whizzes). I see it listed there as a second potential spelling of the plural. Still sucks. Never heard of a NAIL SET, so that whole NW section was a bear for me at first (before I got the theme). It was home to what I believe to be the best wrong answer of the day: for 19A: Site of many hangings (CLOSET), I had CROSS. Happy belated Easter! I don't really get the "?" on 18A: Far south? (ANTARCTIC). What is the play on words there? The ANTARCTIC is, in fact, the "far south" of the globe, so … I don't get it. BEARDLESS is odd, and oddly clued. I can be BEARDLESS and yet not be [Clean-shaven]. See, for instance, anyone with a mustache. Or soul patch. or other hair formation that is not a beard. Liked the clue on OMOO (20D: Polynesian term for an island hopper), but man, it added difficulty to an already-difficult puzzle.

I figured out the theme somewhere in the west, when I wanted ROSETTE and TIE TO and neither of them "fit." Getting the "ET" helped me get ALIEN ABDUCTION, and the whole puzzle settled down to about an average Thursday after that. Didn't realize the "ET"s were symmetrical until I was done, and didn't realize a COW was involved until the very last square—made for a nice little exclamation point.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:10 AM  

Perhaps I 'm easily amused but I got a real chuckle when I finally filled in the 10th rebus square, which @Rex was also my last square.  Caught the ET rebus immediately so the top third was easy.  The bottom was easy-medium, but the middle was tough because I needed to stare a while to finish.

ama before HMO, thought TEE TOTAL was TEa, IT'S On before OK.

Liked it,  a tricky Thur. with a surprise.  A fine debut Brandon!

Anonymous 12:29 AM  

Here you go:

Elle54 1:05 AM  

Didn't get cow

Moly Shu 1:07 AM  

DNF for me on COW. Got everything else rather quickly, just could not finish. Now that I see the solution, I like it even more. ALIEN and ABDUCTION were my first 2 entries, lucky enough guesses, and the rest pretty much flowed as I figured out the ET's along the way. I also thought BEARDLESS was odd. Liked OVEREXERT and FAHD is always fun to spell.

Agree with @Jae, tricky

RnRGhost57 1:27 AM  

One of the best in awhile. Soome real brain teasers, in a good way. And I'm no WHIZ/GENII.

Jisvan 1:28 AM  

Well, I knew easy week could not continue, and this is how it ended, with a COW mashed into a tiny box, surrounded by ALIEN ABDUCTing ETs! Got the top and the reveal pretty quickly also, but soon found this would not be enough to get 'er done. Never saw the cow, even though I wanted those very words for the clues. I thought all the rebuses had to be ET. (I was so innocent, so trusting, so COW-like...)

mathguy 2:03 AM  

Terrific puzzle! Most fun in weeks.

Initially very difficult but it got easier when I noticed the squares holding ET. Another boost came when I noticed that they formed a symmetric pattern. Finally every square was filled except for the one holding COW. I stared at that empty square for a long time before I noticed that it fit into the symmetric pattern. Aha!

Anoa Bob 2:20 AM  

Didn't MESS UP even once on this one. Learned something---ExtraTerrestrials are INTO COW ABDUCTION.

Also liked the clue for OMOO, which is the title Melville chose for his second book. TYPEE was his first and the most popular during his lifetime.

Ahhh, Fayaway.

John Child 2:26 AM  

Medium here because the NE fell pretty quickly and led to TE(ET)OTAL and the rebus. The revealer across the top dropped then, and I was rolling. Just right for a rebus puzzle, except I DNF on the (COW). That was too far out of the box for me today. I tried a Y in desperation. Seeing it on the solution was fun, but it would have been much more fun to get it myself.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

@jae - I am amazed as to how similar our solves are, it's uncanny.

@ jisvan - Made me laugh, again.

Knew something was up at 42A, but it took me a while to unearth it. After that, we had a good time passing it to and fro.

That was one weird looking UFO, maybe it was just my drawing abilities, which are sorely lacking.

jae 4:44 AM  

@chefwen - Gotta be great minds, right?

Danp 6:09 AM  
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Anonymous 6:20 AM  

DNF because

1) I typed CARDS for "Some runners"
which makes ssnse for us poker

2) Though, admittedly, I had no idea
what CERS meant for "Reacts


3) The computer said "Puzzle
Complete" when I clicked check
entire grid.

Danp 6:30 AM  

My ETs made off with nothing more than an empty box, but I congratulate the genii who found the COWering COWard. And after all, that is what alien abduction theories are all about, right? Not livestock.

I might have chosen a less time-sensitive clue for Ruble, since the new economic sanctions against Russia make that 1/36 conversion a one-day-only clue.

I can appreciate @Rex's complaint about all the black squares, but I thought the execution justified them. Very playful Thursday.

Susierah 6:34 AM  

This was fun. Clever clues. 34 minutes, no errors or googles. Never heard of nail set. Loved the clue for closet. Wanted tetes, wouldn't fit. Then figured out the rebus at teetotal, teethes, tetes. Liked it a lot!

Glimmerglass 7:16 AM  

Got COWARD/COWERS but scratched my head and hunted for some hint that there might be a tenth rebus square and what it had to do with ALIEN ABDUCTION. Came here, but so far no one here knows either.

jberg 7:56 AM  

I got the rebus from NAIL SET, then more or less breezed along (except for wanting Taos at 40A -- erally glad that was wrong) until I ended up --- like everyone else, apparently-- staring at that COW space. I ran the alphabet three or four times, and thought of quivers and shivers before finally, miraculously, that COW came ambling along, chewing its cud. You could see that black bar just above it as a tractor beam or ramp going to the flying saucer, but if so the other central black squares ought to fit into the picture, and if they do I can't see it.

I couldn't remember how to spell 'em, so had RUBel before RUBLE -- which was the second time (after 35A) when I thought those eels had swum back in. I think he was showing off his ability to keep them away.

What I learned: CHORDOPHONES. I assume those are any instrument that can play chords easily. I'd better look it up.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Though simple in appearance, a well-made "nailset" is metallurgically sophisticated. Its shaft and tip must be hard enough to survive repeated collisions with nails, while its head has to be considerably softer so it won't chip or shatter when struck. Engineers have even established performance standards for nailset manufacturers, to ensure that these tools do their job safely and effectively.

Susan McConnell 8:23 AM  

Same as @Anonymous at 6:20. Couldn't believe the pencil popped up when I put the C in for CARDS. No idea about the Cow until I got here.. I grew up around them (cows, not aliens) and ALIEN ABDUCTION of them was totally new to me.

This puzzle was Not Fun to solve in Across Lite, due to only having the E show in the ET squares, and having only the C show in the Cow square. Probably a much better solving experience on paper.

Sir Hillary 8:32 AM  

Pretty clunky solve for me, with the grid so segmented.

But...the theme absolutely cracked me up! What a riot, the poor COW underneath the looming spaceship.

Anyone else try FIREwATER first? Would have been a nice counterpoint to TE[ET]OTAL.

Crosswords rarely strike me as funny, but this one certainly did. I can still hear the hapless bovine...OMOO!

Rick 8:45 AM  

Antarctic, in this sense is used as an adjective; hence the "Far south?"

joho 8:48 AM  

I thought this was brilliant and a ton of fun! Congratulations, Brandon ... great job! (Plus I always love drawing on my puzzles!)

Elle54 8:55 AM  

Ok I've been thinking about this: looks like a lot of us didn't get cow. I think I could have gotten it with a clue like"yellow bellies" instead of runners.

Jon 8:56 AM  

Watch some of the early South Park episodes...plenty of references to cows and aliens there. :)

Questinia 8:56 AM  

When I saw the spaceship filled with ET's hovering over something that runs and reacts with fear, I spent a full two minutes before COW popped into my abducted brain; only after my association with COW's common and unfortunate run ins with tornados. Poor things.

But hilarious in the end. COWs beat orifices any day.

loren muse smith 8:57 AM  

Aw, man - my experience was so different. I saw COWARDS/COWERS very early (@Glimmerglass and I are taking our bows, @Danp), before any ETs, and questioned it because I thought maybe it was two forms of the same word. Then I stared out the window and imagined stuff like, "The COWARD cowherd COWERed."

So then I look around thinking, "Wow. Eight other rebus squares with COW?" I was trying to fill a grid yesterday, and the W off a word Was. Giving. Me. A. Fit. (Hey, Gareth!) (Oh, and on the 44 black squares issue – show me a grid with 64 black squares and no Ws, and I'll show you a puzzle I can construct/fill lickety split. Any time I choose a grid furnished by Crossword Compiler with only 36 black squares, I feel so nervy, brave, and adventurous. And then I end up adding four or six more black squares anyway. Hey, Joe Krozel!)

I finally saw a few ETs, but I had Rex' "cross" crossing "Dins" up top and hence "addiction" instead of ABDUCTION. UPA tree? Huh? I thought maybe "ipa" tree was some vowel chart I'd never heard of.

That AVG messed me up, too. Heck – it's *always* "rbi" or "era." I never once considered anything else.

@jae, well, it should be "tea total," right?

Bottom line – a big, ole obese dnf. Too many woes in the north – NAIL SET, NSC, UPA, BINET, AVG. Even after I got CLOSET, I accepted "Dinet." Sheesh.

So this is your debut, Brandon? Really fine work!!! Congrats!!

evil doug 9:17 AM  
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ArtO 9:18 AM  

If nothing else, learned that TEETOTAL has nothing to do with drinking tea (reason for my misspelling until seeing the ET rebus) as opposed to spirits or any alcoholic beverage.

Certainly challenging even after seeing the ET rebus.

evil doug 9:19 AM  

Never got the cow. No help on alphabet runs. Felt proud that I found the nine ET's as the hint required---so the thought of a 10th bonus square never crossed my mind.

Had 'CrOSs' for "site of many hangings" before breaking the ET code; historically accurate, but even then I thought, "No frickin' way the Times tries to sneak *that* in there"---and seeking an alternate gave me my first trick square. Still in an Easter state of mind, I guess....


Bob Kerfuffle 9:21 AM  

DNF - No COW in my grid. No matter how many times I looked at that empty square, it never occurred to me that it could be a rebus, different from ET. Even though I know the answer to "How do you know there is a rebus?" is, "It doesn't make sense any other way."

Medium difficulty otherwise, but really got me good at the end!

Also, though I looked at the clue for 1 & 6 Across a few times, I only realized when I read @Rex's blog that my brain had read "rural legend" but heard "urban legend"! To borrow one of Rex's frequent claims, "urban legend" is in the language, "rural legend" not so much.

Z 9:25 AM  

The paper doesn't tell you when you've filled in the whole puzzle. With much of Idaho and Oregon still blank, I had left -ARDS/-ERS when nothing really worked. I spent a fair amount of time sussing out the NW, partially because I had a couple of my ETs too far left by one square, and totally forgot to go back to that one blank square. Got to Rex and did the Head Slap "D'OH." so a DNF, here. I don't know if my COW would have come home or not, since I never tried.

I do have a beautiful, South Park worthy UFO drawn on my grid. A fun Thursday challenge. Don't much like GENII, but do like the use of E-TICKET. E-TICKET was one of my check-in options on, so it is definitely a real thing now. I also liked the clue for ORDERS, it had me barking up the wrong tree for several minutes. Looking at it, you really can't ask for much more from a Thursday.

This one gets a hearty Two-Hearted Ale rating from me.

Norm 9:35 AM  

I thought this one was rather dumb. I expect more of a Thursday puzzle.

jyocum3 9:43 AM  

Surprised to see so many people, including Rex, confused about the COW being the thing abducted by the aliens. Probes and humans are more recent in my mind. The rural legend has always been farmers finding mutilated cattle in fields, claiming the cattle were abducted by aliens and then dumped in the field. As soon as I saw the symmetry with the ETs forming a UFO, it was really easy to figure out a cow was being abducted. And yes, @Jon, watching South Park all throughout my childhood definitely helped with it!)

@Sir Hillary - I had FIREwATER in there for the longest time until I finally conceded the E for INDEED.

Great puzzle, and I particularly enjoyed it because of it's severe lack of old references (words, actors, authors, etc) since I'm a relatively young solver. Thankfully I've done enough puzzles to accept OMOO when I see it, and TEETOTAL was somewhere in the back of my mind as an old term I've never heard used before.

jyocum3 9:44 AM  

Surprised to see so many people, including Rex, confused about the COW being the thing abducted by the aliens. Probes and humans are more recent in my mind. The rural legend has always been farmers finding mutilated cattle in fields, claiming the cattle were abducted by aliens and then dumped in the field. As soon as I saw the symmetry with the ETs forming a UFO, it was really easy to figure out a cow was being abducted. And yes, @Jon, watching South Park all throughout my childhood definitely helped with it!)

@Sir Hillary - I had FIREwATER in there for the longest time until I finally conceded the E for INDEED.

Great puzzle, and I particularly enjoyed it because of it's severe lack of old references (words, actors, authors, etc) since I'm a relatively young solver. Thankfully I've done enough puzzles to accept OMOO when I see it, and TEETOTAL was somewhere in the back of my mind as an old term I've never heard used before.

Slow Motion 9:46 AM  

I also got the COW before any ETs, and so I was looking for eight other COWs. Eventually got the theme from CLOSET/BINET. Nice symmetry, recognizable UFO, and the suspended cow made for a fun, enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Brandon!

Hartley70 9:46 AM  

Threw my phone down after nearly an hour of looking at the blank space for cow. Grrrr. Never heard of cow abductions. Maybe Elsie was smarter than I thought or the aliens are dumber.

retired_chemist 9:50 AM  

I had fun with it. Medium-challenging. Did not see the relevance of the COW to the ET until I came here Still don't much care about that.

Picked up the theme in the mid-Atlantic, where two squares cried out to be rebuses. Forgot (ET)AS re viscosity and tried all sorts of wrong Greek letters, nuS being my final wrong one. D'oh. Should have got the rebus right there.

I thought the fill was good. NO complaints.

Thanks, Mr.Hensley.

Shamik 9:54 AM  

That's what I get for not being rural. Learn something every day. Learn something silly every day. Cow mutilations. Yeesh.

lawprof 9:56 AM  

Me too -- the COW thing.

bad hair day 9:59 AM  

First fill-ins were LIE and ION. Then wanted chisel because it has the right amount of letters. No go, so next choice was NAILSET. My Dad had one. Really useful little tool. From there got ALIEN ABDUCTION, figured out the rebus that made NAILSET fit and I was off and running. Pat self on back for getting COW, too. Oh what a clever puzzle. Entertaining, too, as I sat at LAX waiting for a connecting flight that was delayed 2 hours. Three different sets of passengers waiting at my gate. Felt fortunate my flight was only delayed and not cancelled. Might have had to hitch a ride with that poor COW.

Arlene 9:59 AM  

I got the rebus at ETICKET - but never saw the COW coming. Never even heard of it. Another something to chat about at cocktail parties.

Casco Kid 10:05 AM  

2:15 until I saw the rebuses. LOA and KEA, eg, before {ET}NA. I was making it work without them. Yeah, I bet you wanna see what that looked like . . .

CLOSe-- synonym for keep, from medieval castle architecture - was where hangings occur, so Alred BINe had to do, and my final ET was where the COW was supposed to be. By symmetry. etERS/etARDS may be French, for all I know. TETES made the puzzle as the target of the guillotine, which sounded grotesque -- like an execution that missed by 6 inches. You aim for the neck, not the head, don't you know?

It only took 15 minutes from the discovery of the ET rebus for a complete grid submission and subsequent punishment.

Oh, only one google. For REM.

AliasZ 10:23 AM  

Lovely puzzle today. I caught on to the ET rebus at ETICKET, after which TETES and the rest fell easily. I was a little baffled by COW as well. I never heard of COWs being abducted, even though I am an avid fan of all UFO-related TV shows. I don't think there are any that I missed. I have seen plenty of images of mutilations, but no reports of COW abductions.

However proper ETiquETte dictates that we avoid discussing the gory dETails of COW mutilations. It's complETely unappETizing nature does not meET the standards of propriETy in this compETent, erudite group of GENII.

We bETter lET some BeEThoven, or The PlanETs by Gustav Holst take its place. Or maybe ITSOK Perlman playing the Carmen Fantasy by Pablo de Sarasate, based on the opera by Georges BizET of course. [It is actually Itzhak Perlman].

I loved the clues for Mother TERESA and CLOSET.

A NAIL SET is a simple, pointy metal rod with which one drives the head of a nail flush with, or below, the wood surface. Anyone who ever tried to repair or install a molding knows this.

A better Captain BLIGH than Charles Laughton has not been born.

I wonder, what was the TEE TOTAL in the caddy's pouch at the end of a long day at the country club?


Nancy 10:24 AM  

Loved this clever, challenging puzzle, which I finished, except for the COW. Never saw the COW. Didn't love the COW. Knew it was a rebus, of course, but only went looking for missing ETs when I got ALIEN ABDUCTION. Then I immediately knew what rebus I was looking for and it all came in. (Except for the COW.) First to fall was TEETOTAL/CORONET, then WETTER/ETAS. A great puzzle. I wish we had more of these. Except for the COW.

Matthew A. Harmer 10:49 AM  

I HATE puzzles like this. Hate, hate, hate. Constructions where one has to fill in multiple letters into single squares are, in my opinion, lying to you from the outset. They're worse than drinking orange juice right after you've brushed your teeth. Am I right in getting the sense that this is a common thing on Thursdays? If so, I might just skip that day from here on out.

Sir Hillary 11:02 AM  

@Matthew A. Harmer - Yes, rebus puzzles like this are common on Thursdays in the NYT. You may want to skip what appears to be torture for you.

Two Ponies 11:02 AM  

Never saw the cow either. DNF
Favorite rebus answer E-Ticket.
Well done Brandon.

Mohair Sam 11:05 AM  

Hand up for never hearing the COW thing, and I lived next to a dairy farm for a year - but that was before the movies "ET" and "Close Encounters" got people silly.

Naticked on the COW to boot, but that's OK. Puzzle had to be easy and fun for those who know the legend. It was fun for us too, but we never sussed out the COW.

Gill I. P. 11:11 AM  

I'll join the "COW, I didn't see no stinking COW" group.
Got all the ET's lickety split though...
Really, really liked this puzzle even though I had the ARDS/ERS blank. Poor cows. I guess they get abducted for their hamburgers.
OTIS was the Mayberry drunk and not Opie?
Good job Brandon Hensley. You made me look up abducted alien COWS...

Casco Kid 11:12 AM  

@MatthewHammer, yes Thursday is rebus day, except when it isn't. Rebuses take a bit of orthogonal thinking. You'll notice that many solvers report how long it took for them to figure it out, and where. I was exceptionally slow today as Occam's Razor/the null hypothesis/rebuslessness was working well enough.

This group prides itself in seeing around corners, so Rebus Thursday is many solvers' favorite day of the week.

Carola 11:40 AM  

What a blast! I was slow to catch on - my top line was mostly blank, and I had a hard time seeing the ETs - as in, "Alfred BINE? I thought it was BINET - but maybe I'm thinking of 'bidet"?" Hence I also rejected CORONET as it was one space too long. Took me all the way to ROSETTE for the "Wait a second...." Also made it harder for myself by failing to note that the ETs were symmetrically placed until I was finished. All the more puzzling pleasure :)

My first runners were pARDS. Stared at pERS. Tried to work in an ET. But then the COW snapped into view. Priceless. Love the idea that she's half way up to the ship.

Wrote in "abstain" right away for "Not believe in spirits" and PRAISEd myself for being one of the crossword GENII.

Benko 11:40 AM  

I've heard a lot about cattle mutilation, but I've never heard anything about the cows being abducted. So the theme for this one fell flat with the "cow" square, at least for me. I liked the "ET"s just fine. Some other good stuff, too.

Karl 11:41 AM  

I did not finish the puzzle either, but I didn't "have a COW" about it...mwahahahaha...

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Anyone else think it should have been "Gets chompers" for TEETHES? A chopper is a modified bike and definitely not a tooth.

Numinous 11:54 AM  

180 out of 181 squares filled in without a MESS UP. I'm feeling seriously COWed. No animals came into view there so, sadly, like many of us here, a DNF.

I had fun with all the ETs, much as I hated that movie. TETES and TEETHES gave it to me. Finding the symmetry for the other seven was amusing. I was expecting, at first, an overall grid symmetry but gradually caught on.

I reckon this is a terrific debut.

Numinous 12:01 PM  

@Anonymous 11:51, I've definitely heard teeth referred to as choppers. However, it seems to me, more often as putting ONEs choppers in a glass to soak over night. Then there is the image of the wind up toy dentures that will chop and bounce across a table top. Onliest little problem: I can't equate TEETHing with being fitted for dentures but that's more the kind of thing I'd leave for @Casco to ponder.

DrXword 12:03 PM  

Terrific puzzle, even though DNF (another one who blanked on COW). The other rebuses and the revealer fell with 42D; there's not that many famous stratovolcanoes.
I object to 17A. There are several definitions for "Genius" where GENII is an acceptable plural. The definition meaning "whiz" , though, is "Geniuses".

wreck 12:14 PM  

I ruined my Ipad drawing lines on the screen connecting the ET's (just kidding).

Frank buxton 12:24 PM  

Really fun puzzle. Enjoyed figuring out where the "Et"s went. Oddly enough I got "cow" first and then had sweat the "ets". Love Thursdays!

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

COW? I caught on to the ET thing fairly early and wondered how on earth (pun intended) what I drew by connecting the squares could be called an extraterrestial.

I ran the alphabet both ways on 55 and couldn't see anything that made sense out of both words, so I thought 55-A ("Some runners") could be CARDS (St. Louis types). That left 55-D as CERS, which still was still nonsense but it could, I thought, be in somebody's dictionary.

I've heard a lot of stories about COW TIPPING, but never any about aliens abducting cows. Have any abducted cows written about their abductions?

Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:30 PM  

@63: Pretty much spot on matched up with everything U experienced. Last square filled was COW. Immediately was also concerned with the whole "cow placement" interior design question.

Perhaps these particular ETs are first-time visitors, and they thought they were abductin the smartest-actin species on the planet. Sample scenario ensues...

Two reddish giant humanoid pilots with horns and goatees and duck bills are on the flight deck of their Antaresian star cruiser, the Evel Pewit II. One pilot is called Mazkd. The other goes by Ufreeki.

Ufreeki: "Man, is this ever the armpit of the 26th Bubble-Universe. Check out all those warring little insect tribes with the boxy home structures and tv ads. What a mess. No sign of higher intelligence, except for the crossword runtpuzs."

Mazkd: "Let's just get the best species sample we can, and get outa here. Check out the big spotted dude out there in that pretty green plain..."

Ufreeki: "Yes. It has very nice placement. Peaceful and calm. Grooves on grass. Has discarded all other worldly possessions. Has yer horns. A worthy subject."

Mazkd: "QED. There's yer rodeo. Let's yank her up and blow this popstand."


p.s. Real different puz. Am bullish on it. Beam it Up by the thUmbs. Primo debut. Need to work on that U count... No more Brandon at the Double-U ranch, pard.

Fred Romagnolo 12:31 PM  

Here's another in the didn't get COW group. Not familiar with the legend. assumed all the REBUSI would be the same (GENII indeed!). Of the "Bounty" trilogy, the one about Bligh's incredible voyage to safety gives an entirely different picture of the man from the Laughton portrayal. I believe it was "Men Against the Sea." "Pitcairn Island" is also worth a read, about the ultimate fate of the mutineers.

JFC 12:45 PM  

Rex has reverted to pussycat status today. Sometimes I feel his moods bounce like a yoyo. This is an inaugural puzzle, so credit need be given for that. However, the theme is off for a couple of reasons. First, there is no legend. Certainly there is no legend concerning a cow. Second, what there are, where an Alien theory of abduction is involved, are cattle mutilations. I’m not going into the gory details but no cow has lived to tell about being abducted and mutilated by Aliens. And if the cow did live, it still couldn’t tell anyone, even if the Aliens returned it safely to its field. So how, I ask, can a legend start if a cow can’t talk?

What COW is, is an easier rebus that PERSON.


okanaganer 1:07 PM  

Yay for Thurebusday!

Happy to stumble upon a COW rather than a COW PATTY.

I have to link to this classic Far Side cow cartoon.

Mikey From ABQ 1:10 PM  

I got an incomplete as I couldn't get the COW rebus. Once I got the none ETs, I thought that wast base on the clue for 1 across. Certainly makes me a dolt among all th genii out there who completed the puzzle.
I did like it that the Spanish bears escaped the flying saucer. Anyone notice that?

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Yeah I had no idea about the COW thing, didn't get it at all, never heard of that. I have lived in rural places, but only in New England and maybe that doesn't count? Also doesn't "call UP" suggest "summon" more than "elicit", for which i think a more proper clue would be "call OUT" or "call FORTH"?

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Too tough for me with rebus and exotic fill.

chefbea 1:52 PM  

Late to the party. Had our monthly NARFE meeting.
Got the theme and even drew the flying saucer but had one blank...COW. Had no idea about that!!! fun puzzle.

Campesite 1:58 PM  

Put me in the loved column.

If the rest of the legend has any basis, that cow is in for some uncomfortable probing.


Connie in Seattle 2:57 PM  

Il can't figure out how to jump into your kiddie pool. I tried to copy & paste your link but that didn't work. Help M&E!
Connie in Seattle

Casco Kid 3:05 PM  

@anonymous11:51 @Numinous has sent you to the right place. We in Rex's BEARDLESS kindergarten class are still cutting our TEETH or TEETHING, but while we still don't quite have the CHOPS for puzzles like this one, we find plenty of distraction by playing with toy choppers: {ha}rleyS, and {heli}{cop} terS. We also wedge round pegs in square holes all day long. As long as we stay in our CRIBS and don't OVEREXERT ourselves, the adults are able to ignore us. And until I've actually failed a BIN{ET} test, I can maintain the fiction of my intelligence! In the end, everybody gets TARTS, so it's a good day. :)

sanfranman59 3:25 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 22:16, 18:08, 1.23, 85%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 16:56, 10:44, 1.58, 95%, Challenging

Z 3:26 PM  

I'm running low on nits. Hopefully the next couple of days will provide me the opportunity to resupply.

For the Alien Abduction of Cows ain't real crowd:

The Daily Mail
The Huffington Post
How Stuff Works
Mental Floss (a magazine everyone here should read)
Australian TV
AND Abducted Cow Beef Jerky - for when TOFU ain't alien enough, MEAT.

M and A Help Desk 3:29 PM  

Kiddie Pool Runtpuz FAQs, part 2:

* Copy the entire xwordinfo url. Exclude nothing from that line. Stuff in the next line might be part of the url, if yer screen is one inch wide.

* Paste url up on that top line where you normally type in your 'Favorite" urls. Make sure nothing but the xwordinfo url is in the box, after the paste

* Press enter. Should work, unless you are using a tablet. Or other weird alien adbuctee device.

* If it don't work, count your lucky stars and get on with the more important stuff. Become a doctor. Or a teacher. Or a runtpuz tech support person.

* Absolutely no refunds.

* If you insist, publish an expanded version of your "It didn't work" claim. Include any juicy facts about explosions or alien visages appearing on the screen. Also include info on your device type and operating system. Who knows -- somebody smarter than M&A might know how to fix yer problem.

"Progress is our last resort"

Ludyjynn 4:08 PM  

Oy, oy, oy. Hated it, much like @MatthewAH. Don't dislike all rebuses, but this one made me beg to be abducted by aliens to escape its clutches! Felt like an excrutiating unsolvable Sat., not a Thurs. Obviously, the first DNF of the week for me. Next...

R. McGeddon 4:35 PM  

I learned about this type of abduction from watching Close Encownters of the Third Kind.

voiceofsocietyman 5:31 PM  

I didn't like this puzzle. I found the top 4 lines and bottom four lines easy -- but the weird cluing and weird answers in the middle made it impossible to finish even tho I had the COW box and one of the ETs. I even understood what it was going to look like -- just couldn't figure out some of the odd bits like WROTETO, ETICKET (yuck!), TIETO, and so forth. Definitely a big disappointment for me.

Lewis 5:33 PM  

I loved the rogue rebus square -- something to keep solvers honest. And I liked the cluing, while not particularly clever or playful in general, it was slippery. A good challenge today.

Dave 5:37 PM  

Eta for Viscosity? Have use mu and nu as both kinematic and dynamic viscosities, but eta was new to me.

Fill was clunky but not difficult on this end.

Mr. Benson 5:38 PM  

@Matthew A. Harmer, you should just expect some kind of twist on Thursdays in general. Maybe it's a rebus like this one, maybe some words will be backwards, maybe there will be blanks for clues and you're supposed to figure out the theme, or something... just some kind of weirdness. Keep your eyes open for it and it will be easier to suss out.

Specifically, if you find yourself thinking "I really want this answer to be (...) but there aren't enough spaces," and it's a Thursday, immediately consider the rebus possibility. Think where else in the grid you might have been stuck with something that didn't fit. I think you'll learn to enjoy it and get some satisfaction from figuring it out.

They occasionally do this on Sunday too, but usually mix in enough gimmes to make it somewhat easier.

Mr. Benson 5:45 PM  

Today I learned that COWARD and COWER have different roots. I would have thought they shared a common etymology, something about being scared, and was ready to be critical of a crossing with what I thought was pretty much the same word twice. But I went and looked it up (a rarity for me) and I withdraw that objection. (COWARD is from Latin via old French, and COWER is from a German word meaning "to lie in wait." The more you know.)

Questinia 8:10 PM  

@ R McGeddon:
Don't you mean Close Encownters of the Turd Kind?

michael 8:17 PM  

I got cow before I got any of the ets. But I had no idea what cow was doing there until I came here.

Anonymous 10:15 PM  

K & Z,
Well, well,the two crossword geniuses are DNF's. This puzzle was simple. Cow is the only rebus that makes sense. Since "rural legend" is part of the challenge, it must be about a cow being abducted. I do vaguely remember something about this from the 1950's.


OISK 10:49 PM  

Missed the cow also. Otherwise, very challenging and rewarding. I might have gotten the "cow" but I didn't have "eticket, just ticket. (even though TNA instead of ETNA made no sense - never went back and fixed it.) So I was still looking for the ninth ET. Had I had all nine, I would have been looking for something ELSE in the "cow" box. Good puzzle, but it beat me.

DigitalDan 2:44 PM  

Don't need nailsets when using today's power nailing machines -- they tend to drive the kinds of nails one would set well below the surface when the nail is fired.

marvin 4:44 PM  

Instead of "obese" in the middle I put "im-men-se" which put "men" as rebus right above "cow" which implied the men had been brought into the space ship and the cow left on the ground. i was pretty proud of that --but doing it required me not knowing stuff like the Polynesian term (i had "omoi" which seemd plausible) and didn't know Bligh and of course simply never figured out the Int Trade group that would have to have been MEN ..C -- i knew something was wrong but i'm still prouder of my answer than if i'd done it right!

sanfranman59 7:17 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:47, 6:04, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
Tue 9:20, 8:32, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:41, 9:54, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium
Thu 22:19, 18:08, 1.23, 85%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:55, 0.94, 18%, Easy
Tue 5:52, 5:11, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Wed 5:35, 6:11, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:41, 10:44, 1.58, 95%, Challenging

Edac2day 12:12 PM  

The target of a guillotine is not the head (tete), it's the neck (cou).

spacecraft 9:50 AM  

Challenging, really? NAH. Medium. I had a bit of a bad start because I HOMEdIN on RBI for the batter's stat. Unable to get untracked with that, I scanned the clue bank for a gimme--and stumbled across 28d, which gave away the 1d store: AVG. [On the way I stuck in the gimme in the middle, BLIGH.] Back to work in the NW, I wanted ALIEN ABDUCTION right away for the top line, but hesitated because of the word "rural" in the clue. (COW was to come along later.) But then 7d had to be BINET, didn't it--except there were only four squares. Light bulb!! Of course! The top line was right, and our nine squares "identically filled" had to be ET. That opened the floodgates.

Then came that troubling square in the south (not quite ANTARCTIC) that would be satisfied with the COW rebus--and suddenly I understood the POINT of "rural!"

I liked this one. Cute as all-get-out, and not horribly filled. There certainly was a plethora of E's and T's, especially in the east: TEETOTAL TEETHES TENET, but that's about the worst I can say. Though not a fan of connect-the-squares crossword art, this one was irresistible ("Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated...")

Beam me up, Scotty, there's no poker hand down here. Just a 3-digit address.

Red Valerian 12:02 PM  

Loved it! I started down in St John's (okay, Florida for much of this crowd) with REM. (Was "Shiny Happy People" really 23 years ago???) As a result, I, like a couple of people above, got COW first. And was trying very hard to find eight more of them! It eventually all fell into place. Great fun.
@Spacecraft--boring three number address, too.

rain forest 1:49 PM  

I see if you filled in the bottom first, and got COW, the rest could be challenging. As it was for me, though, first answers were LIE, ION, INN, NEE. Was sure of Alfred BINET, and so suspected ET was the rebus, confirmed by NAILSET, and CLOSET.

After getting the top, and all the ETs, the bottom went smoothly and there was THAT square (55), which could only be COW, and like @Spacey, understood the tie-in with "rural". QED.

Briefly considered *farting* for "raising a stink", but in the NYT? No way. Liked this one a lot.

Well, I have a 4-number address, with two aces.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

I'm proclaiming unfair because of the "cow" thing. I figured out all the ets but just couldn't crack or understand the final nasty insult. So....a big ole DNF for me. Actually, the rest was interesting and not difficult.

Ron Diego

ctdwag 3:07 PM  

Loved this!!!

For those who question the (?) after 18 Across clue (Far south?): I think it is because it's much more common to see "Far East" or "Far North" or even "Far West."

DMG 3:51 PM  

Had fun finding all the little green men in this one and got it down to that one blank square. Had to leave for an appointment, so plugged in COW which clearly worked and left. Came home to consult with all of you to discover what that square should have been. Surprise I DF a Thursday! Mustn't preen,Friday and Saturday loom!

No hand here, just a dull address.

Jim Lane 4:54 PM  

I'm with Ron Diego on this one. Got everything but COW, so DNF. Never heard any such rural legend. Otherwise a fun puzzle. COW, though, struck me as (hewing to the "rural" theme) redolent of the excrement of certain barnyard fowl.

Dirigonzo 7:31 PM  

The COW had already been abducted by the time I got to the puzzle so I didn't see it either. The hangings in the CLOSET and the Guillotine lopping off TETES gave the puzzle a somewhat macabre tone, no? I loved it anyway - clever and inventive: ITSOK!

It's nice to see @Red Valerian stop by, and a couple of new syndic-commenters dropped in - now I'm lovin' it!

Goleopi escaped - I'm glad to hear it, but that's a strange name for a COW, don't you think?

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

No 13 down clue ?

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Thank you, Jim Lane. It's nice to know there is at least one latecomer who reads my wise and profound comments. ha,ha

Ron Diego

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